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YouTube Gold: Fire And Ice

NC State’s great backcourt of Chris Corchiani and Rodney Monroe

North Carolina Wolfpack v Maryland Terrapins
COLLEGE PARK, MD - FEBRUARY 20: Rodney Monroe #21 of the North Carolina Wolfpack during a college basketball game against the Maryland Terrapins at Cole Field House on February 20, 1991 in College Park, Maryland.
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Jim Valvano had some fun players at NC State, but his best backcourt may have been Chris Corchiani and Rodney Monroe, aka Fire and Ice.

Corchiani, a fiery point guard, was the fire of course, and Monroe, an elegant, unflappable scorer was the ice.

And they were a legitimately great backcourt. Corchiani was not hugely talented but he was tremendously intelligent. You might compare him to Georgia Tech’s Jose Alvarado, although Alvarado is arguably a bit more talented. But both guys had the same basic knack: they were great leaders who got their teammates to play at a higher level.

Corchiani had one trick in particular that was just hilarious. He would rush upcourt, get ahead of his defender, then stop and crouch down and said defender would barrel into him for a foul.

It was a bit like Ernie Pantuso of Cheers fame mastering the art of getting hit by a pitch, but it worked.

Monroe was just a silky smooth scorer who racked up 2,551 points and broke David Thompson’s NC State scoring record.

Part of the reason he did that was because Thompson couldn’t play as a freshman so he had one more year. Another part was that NC State went through the awful end of the Valvano era during his time in Raleigh and they finished up under Les Robinson. A good man, Robinson was limited in many ways by the Valvano fallout and in particular had to deal with some severe recruiting limitations imposed by the school. Partly as a result, Monroe had to shoot a lot as a senior and averaged 27 ppg.